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Order Ford 640 Parts Online

640 Ford on FIRE!

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DickD

07-04-1999 01:30:05




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Hot day in Georgia today. Been traveling the last 3 weekends with the family and so it was a real catchup day around here. We needed some of the old round bales from the back field for garden mulch, but thought I'd take a quick run around that back 40 (actually more like 20) with the 640 Ford ('55) while the bush hog was still attached. I had been wanting to clear a path around the property line for fence maintenance, and blackberry picking. About 3/4 around the field, "the Ford got hot and wouldn't do no more," as Chuck Berry said. When I shut her down I could hear what sounded like the gas boiling - not a good sound and not one I'd heard before, but that's sure what it sounded like! I walked away, ate some berries, checked some fencing, and thought about trudging down to the house for lunch, but didn't. I have a hard time cooling my heels so after a short while hopped back on and when I hit the starter button I saw a flame on the left side of the hood...and shut her down as I jumped off.

But the flames kept coming: out the left side and through the gaps on either side of the hood. My first thought was to run: "she's gonna blow!" My second thought was of the burned out remains of an old Ford 2000 over at Billy Faulkner's place. (If you like old Fords (and Fergs) and you're ever in NE Georgia, you owe it to yourself to go see Billy over in Ila, GA. Bring a checkbook 'cause he's got something you "need.") I yelled "NO! Not THIS tractor!" repeatedly and beat the flames a couple of times with my sweaty old shirt.

And the flames stopped -- for a moment, then reignited. A couple more swats, same thing. I noticed these flames weren't exactly shooting out. They were whispy and light. Very easily blown out by my actions. The boiling gas! It's somehow escaping from the gas tank under the hood, but not under great pressure and she probably won't blow up unless this fire gets a lot hotter and the tank ruptures.

Heat-Fuel-Oxygen, the fire triangle. I needed to cool it down fast and also dispurse the fuel vapor or cut it off from the oxygen. No fire extinguisher and no water to cool the gas tank. So I flailed with that shirt to beat the band. The paint on the hood was just starting to blister. I knew I didn't want paint and rubber to burn. Beat, flail, move air, and, after probably just a minute or two, the flames stopped, for good. I sat with her (not on her) for a good long time, until the boiling sound stopped. Then I walked home, wondering just what had happened. As my son Josh might say, "what was that all about?" Why was the gas boiling to start with? What damage did the fire do?

After an hour or more cooling off (in more ways than one) I headed back up the hill with a gallon of water, a quart of oil, and a gallon of gas. I surveyed the damage. Some light blistering of the paint on the hood was all I could see. Opening the hood, everything looked ok, but the gas cap wasn't level; it was cocked up toward the rear. Apparently, I had only caught one "ear" of the cap on the tank lip when I filled it (with just a gallon) this morning. So that was it! The cap gasket was fine, but the cap wasn't seated. The oil looked ok, smelled ok. The coolant checked out. Everything checked out. I refit the gas cap properly and closed the hood. She started right up! She warmed up normally and ran fine and so I finished the bushhogging cautiously, attached the hay fork, and retrieved those bales for the garden. Close call.

I almost lost my tractor (or worse) today because of something as simple as a gas cap not seating properly. I might have avoided any damage had there been a fire extinguisher on board. And I took some personal risks today that I do not want to repeat. I tell you my tale of woe (at some length, applogetically) in hopes that you might learn from my mistakes. I'll be fastening the fire extinguisher to the left fender tomorrow.

And I still need to find out why she's running so hot...new radiator and all. I'll remove the thermostat for now.

Be careful out there.

Dick Daniels

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Bob

10-30-2002 23:30:38




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 Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 01:30:05  
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hydromars

02-01-2002 08:03:45




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 Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 01:30:05  
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Jerry Kirkpatrick (TN)

07-09-1999 18:49:15




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 Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 01:30:05  
Dick, Thanks for sharing your story. The fire extinguisher is a great idea. I had a similar scare last weekend which just reinforces your conclusions. It's recounted on the N-Board, prompted by a reference to your experience.

JK (TN)



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Moye

07-05-1999 19:00:48




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 Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 01:30:05  
Dick, there should be a heat shield between the muffler and the fuel tank on that tractor. Also, there is a deflector shield on the front that should direct hot air away from the fuel tank. I am just glad that you were not hurt and that your tractor is safe. BE CAREFUL!!!



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DickD

07-06-1999 07:40:52




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 Re: Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to Moye, 07-05-1999 19:00:48  
Thanks Moye, both the heat shield and deflector are in place. I'm still wondering...



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Moye

07-06-1999 19:22:52




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 Re: Re: Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-06-1999 07:40:52  
Dick, the tractor my grandfather had (a Jubalee) had the muffler under the footrest. Only a pipe was attached to the manafold and bent around under the tractor. Moving the muffler this way may help your fuel tank heating problem, but it may increase the heat on your feet LOL.



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Drew / Millinton, MI

07-05-1999 04:36:27




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 Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 01:30:05  
Dick,

Great story. I am going to add a fire extinguisher to my 601 Workmaster. I can't help but wonder if the problem was aided by your being in Georgia. I have been there in the summer and know that temperatures often exceed 300 degrees F during the day. Just kidding, thanks for sharing your story. (I have the other end of the problem here. In the winter the engine doesn't put out enuf heat for the carb and intake manifold to properly vaporize the fuel. So I use part #NCA-Ryenolds - aluminum foil as a heat shield to cover the muffler and the carb.)

- Drew

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Tad

07-04-1999 16:23:08




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 Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 01:30:05  
Dick;
I read your account of your ford catching on fire. My tractor was not so lucky, melted radidator expanded fuel tank burnt and bent sheet metal.
When I rebuilt it I made a full fuel tank heat shield from aluminum sheet and painted it high temp white. I also wraped the muffler in auto header heat wrap. After the rebuild I no longer have any sound of boiling gas. Hope this helps



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DickD

07-04-1999 22:06:44




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 Re: Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to Tad, 07-04-1999 16:23:08  
Thanks Tad. I'll follow up on your ideas! I had already thought I might try to install an exhaust heat shield. The full shield under the tank wouldn't be too hard to fashion. I bet most of the heat problem comes from that blessed muffler right next to the tank.



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paul

07-05-1999 18:57:37




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 Re: Re: Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 22:06:44  
We put the muffler on our 960 outside, vertically, with just a pipe running down where the muffler should be. This cooled it down considerably. There already is a heat shield on a 960, I would think your model as well?

--->Paul



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Senyeh

07-04-1999 15:47:50




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 Re: 640 Ford on FIRE! in reply to DickD, 07-04-1999 01:30:05  

Great story! Nice account of events and also suspenceful. Even better it had a great ending. I greatly enjoyed reading it and wondered how many times this has happened and the cause of the fire was "unknown". I would like to hear more stories including a lucky purchase, reasons one tractor was picked over another, weird mechanical breakdowns and also repairs etc. Thanks for a great story.



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